The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that renewable sources of electricity such as wind and solar grew at their fastest rate in the past two decades in 2020, despite the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Making the disclosure in its latest market update, the IEA noted that the amount of renewable electricity capacity added in 2020 rose by 45 per cent, to 280GW, the largest year-on-year increase since 1999.
According to the report, the increase in 2020 was set to become the “new normal”, with about 270 GW of renewable capacity on course to be added in 2021 and almost 280GW in 2022, despite a slowdown in China after an exceptional level of additions last year.
The forecasts were revised upwards by more than 25 per cent from the IEA’s previous estimates in November as governments around the world have auctioned record levels of renewable capacity and companies have signed record-level power purchase agreements.
“Wind and solar power are giving us more reasons to be optimistic about our climate goals as they break record after record.
“Last year, the increase in renewable capacity accounted for 90 per cent of the entire global power sector’s expansion,” the Executive Director of the IEA, Fatih Birol, said.
He added: “Governments need to build on this promising momentum through policies that encourage greater investment in solar and wind, in the additional grid infrastructure they will require, and in other key renewable technologies such as hydropower, bioenergy and geothermal.
“A massive expansion of clean electricity is essential to giving the world a chance of achieving its net zero goals.’’
Global wind capacity additions almost doubled last year to 114 GW and increases will still be 50 per cent larger than the average expansion during the 2017-19 period in 2021-2022, the organisation projected.
It stated that solar PV installations will continue to break new records, with annual additions forecast to reach over 160 GW by 2022, an almost 50 per cent higher than the level achieved in 2019 prior to the pandemic.
According to the world body, China is at the centre of global renewable demand and supply, accounting for around 40 per cent of global renewable capacity growth for several years, with the country’s share rising to 50 per cent for the first time due to a rush to complete projects before government subsidies were phased oout
In the United States, it stressed that renewable capacity growth this year and next would mainly be spurred by the extension of federal tax credits, while for India capacity additions declined by almost 50 per cent last year compared with 2019, but is expected to ramp up in the current year.
“Renewables were the only energy source for which demand increased in 2020 despite the pandemic, while consumption of all other fuels declined,” the energy agency noted